Flooding and Tidal Surge

Flooding Damage

Flooding is an overflow of water that overtakes land that is normally dry. Flooding can be caused by heavy rains, overflowing rivers, broken dams, storm surges, or melting snow and ice. It can cause damage to homes in the area and threaten human life. Since 2015, an average of 100 people in the United States is fatally injured annually due to floods. Flash floods are the most dangerous because they combine the threats of flooding with incredible speed. They occur when heavy rainfall exceeds the ground’s ability to absorb it. They can happen within minutes with little or no warning. Flooding occurs all across the United States. 

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water that is caused by a storm bringing the water level above predicted astronomical tides. It differs from storm tide which is the water level rise due to a combination of storm surge and astronomical tide. The rising water can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas and can result in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more. Along the coast, storm surge can be the greatest threat from a hurricane. Hurricane Katrina is a good example of the devastation that surge can cause. Storm surge occurs when the force of winds push the water toward the shore. Storm surge is very sensitive to slight changes in storm intensity, speed, size, and angle of approach. They are destructive and the battering waves can easily demolish structures not engineered to withstand that force. The currents from the tides also erode the beaches and highways.

Flooding can cause water damage, mold, structural damage and even total devastation to your property. 

What kind of damage can flooding and tidal surge cause?

Higher than normal water levels can push mud and sediment, and even raw sewage into your home. This can cause contamination. The water damage can not only destroy our important personal items and documents but can also create mold if left for more than 48 hours. Many molds are hazardous and they should all be handled with care. Your insulation and drywall can easily be damaged or contaminated by the flooding, and your heating and electrical systems, flooring and other systems can be affected. 

Water can also cause erosion that can even shift your foundation and cause structural damage to your home or can even be moved off their foundations. The debris from the floodwaters can also cause issues from germs and bacteria that can be health hazards. Water damage and other ill effects of flooding must be dealt with professionally and as quickly as possible. Call your insurance provider and a water damage professional as quickly as possible.

Flooding Damage
Flooding Damage

How to prepare and protect yourself and property before flooding or a tidal surge

It is impossible to fully protect yourself from flooding and tidal surge but if your area is prone to flooding there are a few steps you can take to limit damage to your home. Your wiring should be elevated at least 12 inches above predicted flood levels. This can possibly reduce damage to your home and keep you safer. Any fuel tank in your basement must be anchored. If your area is frequently flooded, consider waterproofing your basement and setting up a sump pump with battery-operated backup. 

Always pay attention to all flood alerts and take them seriously. A Flood Watch will be issued when flood conditions are met. This is when you should protect your furniture and documents. Move furniture and valuables to a high sage place.Sandbags can reduce water damage. Turn off utilities at the main switch if so instructed. Disconnect appliances, Only take these steps if time allows. ALWAYS evacuate before a Flood Warning occurs. Safety First. A Flood Warning means the flood is happening now or will  happen very soon. Prepare an emergency kit for use after evacuating containing flashlights, medications, documents, cell phones and chargers and contact info. Be sure to get Flood Insurance if you are in a high risk area.

How to stay safe during flooding or tidal surge

Find a safe shelter immediately. This should be planned ahead of time and agreed upon for the family. If you are under a  Flood Warning, do not walk or drive through flood waters. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Stay off any bridges that span fast-moving water. And be sure to evacuate promptly if told to do so. Move to higher ground. Be alert.

What to do after flooding or tidal surge.

After a flood, if evacuated only return home when authorities advise it is safe.  Be sure to avoid any moving water and stay away from any damaged area unless you are directed to by public safety officials. Stay off the roads and play it safe in case additional flooding occurs. Do not return home until officials advise it is safe to do so. 

Remember that only 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet, and standing water may be electrically charged. Stay on firm ground. Be extremely cautious entering any building. They may have hidden damage and avoid any building that is surrounded by floodwater. Avoid floodwaters that may be contaminated. Listen to news reports to know if the water supply is safe for consumption. Service any damaged septic tanks or leaching systems immediately.

In your home, turn off the power if you can safely do so. The Red Cross provides a guide “Repairing Your Flooded Home” available from the American Red Cross. It will tell you how to enter your home safely, protect your home from further damage, record damage, check for gas or water leaks and more.

If appropriate hire a cleanup or repair contractor and contact a water damage specialist. Call your insurance company.

Does my homeowners insurance cover flooding or tidal surge?

Homeowners Insurance usually does not cover water damage resulting from a flood.There is special Flood Insurance which is mostly available from the National Flood Insurance Program. It is a federally regulated program that covers your home up to $250,00 and your personal property up to $100,000. It covers losses directly caused by flooding. It covers an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties.  

Damage caused by a sewer backup is covered if it is the direct result of flooding. It will not cover property and belongings outside of the insured building such as trees, wells, walks, pools, decks and patios. It may cover mold and mildew if it is not caused by the owners’ failure to inspect and maintain the property. Flood insurance may help pay to remove debris but does not cover general clean up.  Consult your insurance carrier for full details and the most current information.

Should I hire a property damage attorney?

If you are not satisfied with your insurance companies pay out a property damage attorney can be helpful. But remember, they do take a portion of the claim themselves so be sure you understand the terms and that you really need this assistance. There are many good attorneys to assist you, but start with your insurance company and be sure you understand  your policy and coverage